Making a deck box

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A few weeks ago, I noticed that some critters were getting into my recycling bin and literally eating the plastic containers. I would find them strewn all across the deck, and stashed in the shrubbery on the side of my house. They eventually resorted to eating the blue bin itself, which was completely unacceptable. I looked into buying a deck box, but none were the right size and all were very spendy. So a friend and I took to designing a box that would fit.

First off – I grossly miscalculated how long it would take to build this thing. The first day was spent picking up materials. The second day was spent cutting wood and slowly building the box.

Brown cow dog cares not for your building a box

We got most of it done the second day, and were finally finished building on the third day. We used a wood putty to fill in the cracks on top, and sanded about eight gazillion times. One thing we learned (it’s a pretty big DUH): do not cut boards that are still wet!

Let’s do the time warp…

I tried to soak that warpy board in water & wood glue, and used clamps and braces to try and straighten it out, but no dice. Oh well.

Because I’m a masochist, I decided to stain the thing. Now, while I am 100% a “more is more” kinda gal, this is NOT THE WAY with stain. Stain is very much a “less is more” kinda gal, which became immediately apparent when I started staining the thing. It took a LOT of coats to be really dark, and I realized that you don’t get a lot of wood grain through the stain.

To add difficulty to annoyance, I wanted to stain the top two different colours in a dog pattern. It involved a) transferring the design to the top of the box with chalk b) tracing the design to the top of the box c) digging a little trench with blades to try and stop stain leeching d) staining the top one colour many times e) staining the dark around it after and f) using a small paintbrush to stain the dark on the light. All of that = PITA.

Questioning my sanity at this point

Once the stain had dried (I’ve lost count of what day I’m on at this point), I decided to coat it in a weatherproof spray. Initially I wanted a thick resin coat, but couldn’t find exactly what I was looking for, so settled for aerosol spray. It was legit 45 degrees C with humidity in the garage, so we wrassled this fucker into the basement where I set up a fan and sprayed the bejesus outta it. After another week or so had passed (it takes forever for the spray to harden and when you do about eleventymillion coats, it takes longer), we brought it outside to live on the deck. I found some little paving stones lying around the garage and put the box on them so it doesn’t rot (even though I sprayed the bottom). You can clearly tell that the top has less stain than the sides, and I really like the wood grain look, so going forward, less stain.

Not bad!
Screw you, rodents!

The last step was installing hydraulic hinges so that it stays open by itself. I was hoping it would be soft-close (it’s soft-open!) but it is not. It will bang loudly shut if you don’t guide it with your finger. But whatever, it’s done, and I am 100% glad to be finished. The project took several weekends (3 or 4?) and cost roughly $200 CAD, with some of that being new tools like a hacksaw and a replacement blade for my mom’s hacksaw.

Posted on July 23rd 2020 in Woodwork

Adventures in resin casting

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About 10 years ago, I tried my hand at casting resin. The results were terrible (bubbbbbllesss!) so I threw it aside and forgot about it. Then a few weeks ago, I found three dead bees lying around, and I immediately thought “I should cast these in resin!” (WTF? Who thinks that?) Anyway, I went to Michaels and got some molds, and dug out the resin when I got home.

The first trials were…not great. I didn’t realize that if you have a matte mold, the resin will come out matte. Also, the bee was lighter than the resin, so it floated to the top of the mold. Womp womp. I did discover that if you coat them in clear nail polish, the matte disappears and you can see right through them again (not pictured)

Thar be beez in thar

I also bought a button mold so I could make glittery buttons, and those worked well enough. I think the glitter covered up any bubbles

That sweet, sweet, Martha Stewart coke glitter

Knowing that I had to do a few more tests before using up all my bees, I forged ahead not testing anything and instead opting to guerrilla it, as usual.

The results were less than ideal. I should have filled the mold more prior to placing the bee, and I should have let it fully cure before layering in more resin. This resulted in a ton of bubbles nearly obscuring the bee.

Bee bubble cloud

It was at this time that I realize the resin had likely expired, as the fluid was amber in colour, and totally should have been see-through. I didn’t think it really mattered with the bee because it kind of added to the look.

Undaunted, I tried again and this time cast a gypsy moth (they’ve been going bananas here lately).

While it looks neat (upper left), the resin is clearly yellow, and it again has Too Many Bubbles.

So I went to DeSerres and bought new casting resin. I picked some cute weeds and found another gypsy moth and tried to cast again. This time, I was more patient and tried to leave more time for the resin to cure. But as you can see in the top right of that picture, the results were crap. The first 1/3 of the pyramid is 100% bubbles and you can’t see shit. The middle part has fewer bubbles, but you can clearly see the casting fill line. Thinking that I was stirring too vigorously, I stirred more slowly on the third round, and you can see the result in the last bottom part. It’s clearly the best of the three, but still bubbly and the fill line is visible. I was annoyed because I really liked the composition of the moth on the weeds, and it was all lost to stupid fucking bubbles. I’ve tried hitting them with a heat gun, hitting them with a kitchen torch, and vibrating them, and nothing has worked.

I went back to Michael’s to pick up those star shaped molds and tried again with the new resin. Three of them have pretty little weeds in them, but you can’t see them for the bubbles and the glitter. D’oh. The other four worked really well, and you can’t see any bubbles from the glitter (even though I know they are there).

I’ve currently got a fourth pyramid mold curing, and will top up the last little bit with new, slowly-stirred resin with glitter. I know that it will be somewhat bubbly, but I can already tell the moth is more visible inside. I’m thinking of building a DIY vacuum chamber to help, but we’ll see.

Posted on July 23rd 2020 in Resin